MEN'S HOOPS PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS ON THE LINE THURSDAY AT MONTANA
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It all comes down to this week. With just two games remaining in the regular season, Sacramento State (14-13, 8-10) finds itself locked in a five-team battle for the final four spots into the Big Sky Tournament…the Hornets conclude the regular season with road games Thursday at Montana (21-6, 17-1) and Saturday at Montana State (11-16, 8-10)…tip-off on Thursday against the Grizzlies at Dahlberg Arena is set for 6:05 p.m. PST…the top seven teams in the 11-member league qualify for the Big Sky Tournament (March 14-16), and only Montana, Weber State (16-2) and North Dakota (11-8) have clinched a spot in the field…trailing North Dakota is Northern Colorado (9-10) in fourth place, and a four-way tie for fifth place with Sacramento State, Montana State, Southern Utah and Northern Arizona…all four of those teams in fifth place are 8-10…with places 4 through 8 in the standings so bunched up, there are a number of different tiebreaker scenarios that could come into play and decide what four teams will be in, and which team is out…Sacramento State will likely qualify for the tournament with one victory this week, but they don't mathematically clinch a spot with just one win…it could take an hour to explain all the maddening tiebreaker scenarios, but one thing is certain, the Hornets will be in if they go 2-0 this week…should the Hornets go 0-2, there is one scenario that gets them in…the Hornets are looking for their first trip to the Big Sky Tournament since the 2005-06 season, and their first year with an overall record above .500 since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92…Sacramento State, which produced a 10-4 home record, has already secured its second most overall wins (14) in the Div. I era, and has matched its most Big Sky wins (8) since joining the league in 1996-97…despite a one-point road win at UC Santa Barbara during ESPN BracketBusters play, the Hornets have dropped five of their last six road games, including five straight losses to Big Sky teams…Montana, which has played the last two games without two of its best players in point guard Will Cherry and forward Mathias Ward because of foot injuries, is locked in a battle with Weber State for the Big Sky's regular season title and right to host the conference tournament…the Grizzlies can ill afford to lose any games this week with Weber State one game behind and currently riding a nine-game winning streak… Montana owns a commanding 33-5 record in the all-time series with Sacramento State, and has won the last 12 meetings between the two teams (including a one-point win earlier this year at the Nest)…Sacramento State's last victory over Montana (80-72) came at home on Jan. 4, 2007… the Hornets have dropped nine straight in Missoula with the last win coming in a Big Sky Tournament quarterfinal game on March 8, 2003.
For Sacramento State's complete set of game notes, click on the link above the photo.